A report made in the spring of 1911 by the United States commercial agent at London, Mr. J. D. Whelpley, to his government at Washington, and published by the Bureau of Manufactures of the Department of Commerce and Labor, gives considerable information on the London fur trade. The following extracts from it are informative:
"London is the fur market of the world, and the prices paid at its famous auctions are the determining factors in making prices the world over. Practically all the fur gathered during the year is sold at one or other of its five auction sales. The first is held in January, the second in March (by far the largest and most important), another in June, and a fourth in October. In December is held the annual seal sale, at which nearly all the seal furs taken during the previous 12 months are offered. This selling of the furs in one market has its advantages, especially from the viewpoint of the sellers. With so many diverse interests, representing practically every country in the world, it is utterly impossible to form a dealers' `ring', as would almost inevitably result if the furs were offered in a smaller and more restricted market. That, probably, is one of the considerations that brings the furs over thou-sands of miles of land and water at considerable expense to be sold in London and returned for final disposal, perhaps, to places within a few miles of their capture.
"There was a time when only dealers bought furs at these great auctions. Now, however, several of the larger and richer wholesalers bid, eliminating the dealers' profit. Tht principal reason why this is not done to a larger extent is a financial one. Few of the wholesale houses wish to tie up capital for the long period necessary if they buy direct from the auctioneers. Buying for cash in January and March, it is in many cases close on to a year, and in some cases, when business is poor, two years before the wholesalers and manufacturers can hope to realize on their investment. On the other hand, the dealers extend liberal credit terms to their customers, and consequently the burden on the latter is not such a heavy one.
"Information concerning the fur trade of London is most diffi cult to obtain, owing to the nature of the business and the reticence of those engaged in it. Prices vary so much in any one skin that the rise or fall can be determined only by experts, and then merely approximately and by very general averages.
"There are no detailed figures as to British imports or exports, The only way in which the imports of any particular skin can be determined is to totalize the sales. This is difficult and unsatisfactory, as there are several small sales and some private offerings in addition to the great fur auctions. The English trade returns for 1910 give the